5. Surnames – The Germans

As the Germans boarded ships in Europe to make their way to the English colonies in America, the ship’s captains were required to create and maintain a passenger’s log; often times, this would become the beginning of the Anglicization of their family surnames. I have been surprised to find just how many of the surnames that I had previously thought to be of English origin were actually of Germanic origin, especially here west of the Catawba. For example, you can find many families with the last name of Baker or Miller here in what was once “old” Lincoln County; but both are most probably German in origin. When the German passenger boarded the ship and gave his name as “Backer”, it was easily transcribed as “Baker”, not only because it sounds alike, but because “Baker” is the literal translation of the German “Backer”. The same can be said of the surname “Muller” which was most naturally written as “Miller” because of the sounding and translation. I’m not proposing that all Bakers and Millers in the U.S. are from Germany, but here in “old” Tryon County that is most likely the case. One of the most interesting surname translations that I have encounter is that of “Zimmermann”; which soon became it’s English version, Carpenter. Robert Carpenter has detailed how his ancestor, Christian Zimmermann, along with a few of his relatives (probably brothers) were some of the early settlers of “old” Tryon County. According to Robert, “Zimmermann” means “room builder”; so a “Zimmermann” in Germany is a “Carpenter” here in America.

These are among some of the most oblivious surname Anglicization; and most of the Germans were unable to maintain their names as they helped colonize America. I’ll try to show how some of our ancestral names morphed over time.

Bess / Best: Bosch – Besch

Costner: Kastner

Cresamore: Greisemeir – Cressimore

Eaker: Eckert – Ecker – Acre

Friday: Freitag – Freidag

Fulbright: Volprecht – Volbrecht

Heafner: Havner – Hafner – Hoffner – Heffner

* this was most likely the root of all the other Heavner and similar spellings of the surname.

Hoffman: possibly the original German name.

Hovis: Hofsaes – Hobbes – Hobbas

Hoyle: Heyl – Hoyl

Huffstetler: Hoffstutler – Huffstutler

Killian: Chiljan – Killen

* there is most definitely an Irish family Killian, but I know our Killian ancestor has been identified as an Andreas Killian, supposedly born in Bavaria.

Kiser: Kayser – Kizer

Kuykendall: possibly the original German name.

Mauney: Manni

Pasour: Boshaar – Bashere

Ramsour: Ramsourger – Ramseur

Rhodes: Routh – Roth – Rodes

Rhyne: Reinau – Rein

Rudisill: Rudisilli – Rudisille

Shetley: Schottle

Shook: Schuck

Shytle: Scheickle – Scheitel

Summey: Sumy – Summi

Wills: Wiltz

These German families filed for land grants all along the creeks, streams, and rivers that flow into the Catawba River; especially along the South Fork of the Catawba between Lowell and Lincolnton. Before the population of the area ballooned and other meeting houses were built, most of these families attended the old Kastner Lutheran Church; not far from the present day Philadelphia Lutheran Church. For many, this religious gathering of the Germans represented an all day affair; faithfully traveling many miles to reach their destination.

A SPECIAL NOTE TO ALL THE FELLOW GENEALOGY BUFFS THAT HAVE ANCESTORS IN OLD TRYON COUNTY: While I was doing a general internet search for the old Kastner Lutheran Church and Cemetery, I found a link regarding new information about our ancestor Peter Heyl. I had mentioned in an earlier post two books that I have used extensively in my research, but knew might contain some suspect information; “Our Kin” and “The Genealogy of Peter Heyl”. Well it seems that a noted NC genealogist, Kathy (Gunter) Sullivan has uncovered documented evidence that challenges that the Peter Heyl married to a Catherine Dales presented in those books is not the father of the Hoyle family here in old Tryon County, but instead was a Peter Heyl married to a Susanna Muller. Both individuals existed and did migrate to America, but their family heritage has been confused, combined and blurred. I, like so many others, have included the Peter Heyl / Catherine Dales combo into in my family tree information, and it now appears to be in error. Ms. Sullivan’s new information was just posted on the site on 22 March 2019; so if you too are a descendant of Peter Heyl, I would recommend that you visit the site found at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Heÿl-203.